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Matchup: Box kick king Conor Murray versus Speedy Sanchez

Harry Jones Roar Guru

By Harry Jones, Harry Jones is a Roar Guru

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    Conor Murray does not look like a scrumhalf. He’s too tall. He doesn’t wriggle. He’s not a gymnast. He does not have breakaway speed. His snipes are deceptively slow – he runs upright and fends. A halfback does not usually fend.

    Murray can put you in a box. You’ll know what he is going to do, but you won’t be able to stop it. He’ll box kick you into the loss column. And yet, all of Australia will be begging Will Genia not to box kick, at all.

    Box kicks are seen by many as rugby heresy; a blight on the code. A cousin to the dreary mauling, the back-line equivalent of scrum resets, and the death of creativity.

    Every charge down sticks in the memory forever: ‘What’s the bloody point of doing the hard work to win the ball, and then we give it away?’

    A thousand ex-forwards will exclaim this simultaneously, as Genia sticks his leg out, heel embedded in the Suncorp turf, barking at his blindside chasers, dwarfed by gold-clad bodyguards.

    This all the while the entire Wallaby fan-base grimacing and almost closing their eyes.

    Back in Limerick, where they’ve been seeing Murray launch five-second bombs into a perfectly drawn little box since schooldays (when he had master-chaser and good mate Keith Earls to chase them), every Irish box kick will draw applause and engender confident hope.

    Instrumental in Ireland’s magical rise up the world rankings, the treble of Six Nations cups, the Grand Slam, an All Black scalp, and the Lions’ renaissance, Murray’s ‘super-power’ is his box kick.

    Conor Murray British and Irish Lions Rugby Union 2017

    (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    There’s a Welsh halfback with a better burst from the base, a couple of Kiwis with a bit more mustard on their passes, English boys who defend better, and Genia.

    Genia can do a few things Murray cannot: rescue a ball from a decimated scrum retreating at many knots, step an All Black loose forward, get into space, and outlast a wing in the race for the line.

    But workmanlike Murray is at the heart of Joe Schmidt’s ‘attrition-ball’ plan.

    Maybe the fact that the best skill of (in my opinion) Ireland’s best player is a ‘blue collar’ weapon – dangerous mostly because of its repetitive predictability – is the perfect summary of Ireland’s rise from ninth (2013) to second (now).

    What does Murray do so well when he box kicks?

    First, he understands what a box kick is: it’s a ‘box-to-box’ kick. He imagines he is trapped in a box, himself. The walls around him are thick and impervious.

    The ‘box’ is small, so there’s no run-up to the boot, and he doesn’t add a shuffle back, either. He wants his chasers to know exactly what he is doing to let them be at full speed upon contact of boot-to-ball. He tries to kick the ball out of the top of the ‘box.’

    The other ‘box’ Murray pictures well (and ‘paints’ like a top golfer in his prime, sticking approaches on a tricky green as if there is a magnet to a tiny area just below the pin) is the landing area. It’s uncanny.

    The only other top scrumhalf I can remember with Murray’s degree of metronome accuracy on box kicks was Fourie du Preez.

    One gets the feeling Murray adds a ‘box kick’ session to each week’s practice and doesn’t allow himself the fish, chips, and amber ale until he puts a set number of box kicks (20? 25?) in a row.

    This, without exception, into a coned-off quadrant where he can lure opposing fullbacks, wings, number eights, and hapless flyhalves, often colliding with each other, or calling out: ‘Yours!’ at the last moment.

    Second, Murray’s kicks ‘hang.’ In the last week, I have watched about 25 of Murray’s box kicks. The shortest time a box kick was in the air (not including offensive box kicks just after turnovers) was 4.3 seconds.

    The longest exceeded five seconds; I swear it. Most were right at five seconds.

    Out of curiosity, I took a rugby ball out on my morning run with me, and stopped at a local high school football field (I am in the steamy state of Louisiana, at the moment), and booted it as high as I could to find the apex.

    It’s really hard to put a ball in the air for five seconds, even if you don’t have to care where it lands!

    Giving a blindside winger and a couple of midfielders five seconds to run 30 metres, but where they have already accelerated at the time of the kick and time their contest-jump, is a recipe for success.

    Third, he’s not a charge-down risk, at this point in his career. He does not even require a three or four-forward shield wall. One or two will do.

    His technique is fundamentally perfect. He swivels from his plant foot and makes contact with most of his back turned to the opposing pack. The ball flight is very high.

    It comes over his shoulder. His hands are soft and low; there is no elaborate ‘I am now going to kick out of the box and into the box’ windup.

    Fourth, he boxes at the right time, in the right place, with the right supporting cast. A hallmark of a Murray box kick is how well he coordinates with his chasers.

    In almost every box kick I viewed, Murray arranged his Shield and Chase in the phases before the kick. Not just the kick phase.

    Now, Ireland’s superlative ability to retain the ball cleanly and tidily at the ruck is a contributing factor of course.

    Murray is not to be pushed back at rucks. Maybe he has a loud voice? But you can see his instructions, and how well Ireland executes his shield wall and his flanking chasers.

    Ireland Rugby Union Six Nations 2017

    (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    He finds his sweet spot before he boxes. He will add a phase if he has to, in order to find the patch between 10 and 15 metres in from touch.

    The scrumhalf almost never boxes too tight to touch. The ‘shape’ of play is typically tight, so that the opposing defensive line is up, aligned, and flat.

    He always double-checks, or even triple-checks his target ‘box.’ I see other scrumhalves decide to box, but then not look again to see if the other team slid another player into the ‘receiving box.’ This may be where Murray’s height (6 foot 2) is a point of difference.

    The other ‘reads’ Murray seems to make before boxing are:

    1. He likes to have two chasers on either side, not just one. On the blindside, often it’s a wing and a fast forward, trailing, in case a counter ruck or tackle turnover is the best option.

    On the open side, it’s anyone suitable, but you can see all four chasers weaving through the modern ‘blocking’ systems. Murray won’t kick until he has what he wants. But because he doesn’t require a shield on both sides of the ruck, he can usually assemble his supporting cast quickly.

    2. He spies on the defensive line and sometimes aborts a box kick. Too many other scrumhalves ‘lock and load’ their box, even if the situation changes. Murray ‘audibles’ like Tom Brady.

    3. Murray notices if a necessary chaser is caught up in a ruck or is limping.

    4. If he sees a defender move across, robbing them of a sweeper player, he flattens his box kick and adds five to ten metres on the kick, to find grass (a ‘modified box’).

    Murray is a quick box-kicker, unlike Genia. His Shield is also quick, and his chasers seem always ready to go. It’s not all about Murray. But it does seem he is the orchestra conductor from Munster.

    When I hear him interviewed, Murray doesn’t strike me as too full of himself. I don’t know if that’s accurate, but he seems to diagnose the game well, even in the moment, just at halftime or after the final whistle.

    So, maybe the decision on when to box kick six or seven times, and when not to box kick (two or three critical times) is just a part of his overall sense of the flow of a game.

    When Ireland or Munster is going nowhere, and his internal clock says a turnover is imminent – Murray boxes. These aren’t necessarily contestable.

    Instead, he is avoiding a worse fate, because he sees too many defenders on the blindside, or Sam Warburton is poised nicely to jackal on an angle, or Murray doesn’t have enough forwards on their feet to sustain a drive.

    In a similar situation, Genia might funnel it back to Bernard Foley, fifteen to twenty metres back in the pocket, who then rushes a twenty-five-metre kick-to-touch. A five-metre ‘gain.’

    Murray gets about 35 metres on his box kicks, whether hoisting them for a contest or from inside his 22 to touch. And if it’s a chase, he has chasers onside immediately at pace.

    The Australian-Irish series will be a fascinating boxer versus puncher contest.

    The boxer might take it – slowly and steadily.

    Next, I’ll take a look at where Genia could trouble Murray and his mates.

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    The Crowd Says (180)

    • Roar Guru

      June 7th 2018 @ 3:37am
      Corne Van Vuuren said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:37am | ! Report

      Very nicely analised Harry, I suppose when the kick chase is fundamental to your game like Ireland’s that is the detail one has to go into.

      Am I right that Murray is likely a very controlling person,would need to be to have all those boxes ticked timeously.

      • Roar Guru

        June 7th 2018 @ 11:50am
        Harry Jones said | June 7th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        He’s a control freak! In the best way…

        • June 7th 2018 @ 3:19pm
          cuw said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

          @ Harry Jones

          i wonder if u noticed that Murray keeps the ball on one end before kicking ??

          i have no idea of the technicality of it ….

          • Roar Guru

            June 8th 2018 @ 12:43am
            Harry Jones said | June 8th 2018 @ 12:43am | ! Report

            Yes, I noticed a few things about how he “presented” the ball

            1/ drops it “softly”
            2/ end of the ball on his boot
            3/ head down throughout

    • Roar Guru

      June 7th 2018 @ 3:38am
      The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:38am | ! Report

      Great work Harry. Love your eye for details within the details.

      Been a massive fan of Murray for several years. He is a real point of difference for all teams he plays for.

      Remember last year when Crusaders played the Lions on a wet night in CHCH? Razor Robertson certainly do. When asked about Murray after the game Razor just said “world class”.

      There is one thing I like to add, and that is his try-scoring skills. For someone who lacks sprinter speed, he scored an awful lot of tries. I guess that can be credited to his rugby smarts. And how many scrumhalfs has a highlight video on YouTube with tries scored against the All Blacks?

      • Roar Guru

        June 7th 2018 @ 4:22am
        Harry Jones said | June 7th 2018 @ 4:22am | ! Report

        Vision and strength. He sees the area around the ruck better than almost any other 9. Then, you can see that after he is deceptive with ball in hand (a feint, a dummy, a shimmy) he has the strength to not get “Kainoed.”

        • June 7th 2018 @ 8:41am
          Henry Bourke said | June 7th 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

          Great read Harry.

          Big news coming out of Ireland- probable team:

          James Ryan
          O’Mahony (C)

          For those paying close attention that’s 6 changes from the team that beat England.

          McGrath comes in for Healy at loose head where the two of them have been sharing duties for Ireland and Leinster.

          Herring replaces the injured Best when many expected Cronin to start.

          John Ryan replaces Furlong. Long regarded as the best scrummaging prop in Ireland but not in the same league as Furlong around the park (no one is).

          Jordi Murphy starts at 7 for Leavy which for me tilts the backrow battle in favour of the WBs.

          Joey Carberry starts ahead of Sexton. Huge call but Schmidt clearly wants to give Joey as much time at 10 as possible. For the Aussies out there who don’t know him he is Ireland’s future. Dynamic with ball in hand, quick with great feet and a great pass. Needless to say he doesn’t have the same game control that Sexton has.

          Lastly, Henshaw is in for Ringrose at 13. No loss no gain, both great players.

          No word on the bench yet

          • Roar Guru

            June 7th 2018 @ 11:14am
            PeterK said | June 7th 2018 @ 11:14am | ! Report

            Kepu isn’t far behind Furlong around the park, he has a better pass / offload and runs well.

            Tupou could actually be better in 1-2 years.

            • June 7th 2018 @ 11:28am
              Fionn said | June 7th 2018 @ 11:28am | ! Report

              I don’t know if either one is necessarily ‘better’ around the park.

              Furlong is more powerful but Kepu is more elusive and has way better ball-skills.

              Furlong is just better tighter and Kepu is better out wide.

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 11:35am
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 7th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

                Furlong knows how to juggle mate. No kidding, the big man has serious ball-skills.

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 11:35am
                PeterK said | June 7th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

                I give the edge to Furlong for his cleanouts, and holding up players in tackles, the edge in attack to Kepu.

              • June 7th 2018 @ 11:42am
                Fionn said | June 7th 2018 @ 11:42am | ! Report

                I never denied that he did. But Kepu and Vunipola are the standout props in the world in terms of ball-skills. Tupou might overtake them both, we’ll see.

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 11:47am
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 7th 2018 @ 11:47am | ! Report

                Mako’s drop-goal skills are freakish for a prop. Still waiting for him to show it off in a Test match, but on training, he nails them from 35-40 meters out.

              • June 7th 2018 @ 12:02pm
                Fionn said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

                Interestingly, I feel like there are a lot of extremely good props in world rugby at the moment. Furlong, Vunipola, Kitshoff are probably the standout three to me…

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 12:31pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

                Is it slowly turning into the new glam position in rugby? The locks have ruled supreme for a few years now, but this could be a change of guard maybe?

              • June 7th 2018 @ 12:40pm
                Diggercane said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

                My comment below was supposed to be here. I blame the French

      • Roar Guru

        June 7th 2018 @ 5:47am
        taylorman said | June 7th 2018 @ 5:47am | ! Report

        True, such a shame only one resulted in an actual win. Oh two, with the Lions.

        • Roar Guru

          June 7th 2018 @ 9:48am
          Derm McCrum said | June 7th 2018 @ 9:48am | ! Report

          God – You must be real fun at parties, Tman.

          • Roar Guru

            June 7th 2018 @ 10:51am
            taylorman said | June 7th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

            Sure am, and you wont see me putting up you tube videos there trying to impress either😆

            • Roar Guru

              June 7th 2018 @ 11:44am
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 7th 2018 @ 11:44am | ! Report

              I say you have not been to any late night parties for a long time. Watching YouTube clips is very common at parties these days (in the civilized world).

              My guess is that even the All Blacks players would throw you out if you somehow got invited to one of their parties. No witty banter game and non-existent self-irony always rate poorly among a fun-loving crowd.

              • June 7th 2018 @ 12:39pm
                Diggercane said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

                No, the useless buggers are just finally catching up to hookers

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 12:50pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

                Was it useless props that destroyed your stats and thereby robbed you of your well-deserved All Black selection back in the day, Digger?

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 1:03pm
                Diggercane said | June 7th 2018 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

                None were a match for my drinking stats! None!!

              • June 7th 2018 @ 1:07pm
                Fionn said | June 7th 2018 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

                I thought you said you didn’t really drink…

                … Or were things different in the past life? 😛

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 1:12pm
                Diggercane said | June 7th 2018 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

                We all have a ‘back in the day’ no?

                Anyhow, without previous experience how could I possibly decide not to really drink much anymore?

              • June 7th 2018 @ 1:41pm
                Fionn said | June 7th 2018 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

                Haha, good point.

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 3:46pm
                taylorman said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

                Oh please, we get an article on genia and murray and the first thing up is a little vid of murray versus the ABs. Sad.

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 4:25pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 7th 2018 @ 4:25pm | ! Report


                A video about Murray on an article about Murray… Yeah, that is really sad.
                I guess I must be up to my usual tricks showing off my anti-Kiwi agenda.

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 5:33pm
                taylorman said | June 7th 2018 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

                Yes theyre getting a little predictable. How about i put up some aaron smith videos? Aah no. That would be tardy.🤣

    • June 7th 2018 @ 3:50am
      KenoathCarnt said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:50am | ! Report

      You forget one key difference Genia has 5 star skills. If this was a Fifa 18 comparison Genia easily wins.

      • Roar Guru

        June 7th 2018 @ 4:00am
        The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 7th 2018 @ 4:00am | ! Report

        Okay mate, break down all the skills “FIFA Style” and grade Genia vs Murray, please.

      • Roar Guru

        June 7th 2018 @ 4:23am
        Harry Jones said | June 7th 2018 @ 4:23am | ! Report

        Genia is very skillful, much faster than Murray, even when Conor was younger and quicker.

        But this article was about the box kick. Nobody can say Genia is better at it than Murray, with a straight face.

        • June 7th 2018 @ 7:08am
          Daveski said | June 7th 2018 @ 7:08am | ! Report

          All the Aussies are poor at it which is the main reason Aus fans don’t like it. Genia and Phipps have been charged down far too many times for too little return. Nic White has the biggest boot and perhaps Jake Gordon the best technique but both are / were guilty of box-kicking too often or at the wrong times.

          It has an effective place in the modern game. We just haven’t mastered the art or the context.

          • Roar Guru

            June 7th 2018 @ 10:48am
            PeterK said | June 7th 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

            Harry first of all a very very good article, in the class of NB , only thing was a series of video clips with circles around players.

            Soon your articles will be on the left side at this rate.

            As Harry so expertly describes though it requires a combined effort, most chasers of box kicks by oz teams are poor, either they don’t bother or don’t know it is going to happen.

            I see no reason , except they don’t prioritise it, why Genia and chasers can’t get a lot better at it. Hang time is the most important aspect followed by consistent distance.

            Considering how often Genia does box kick there is no excuse to not practise practise practise it as a group even if against Cheikas wishes. I understand Cheika doesn’t value the kicking game much however since the reality is Genia kicks a lot you might as well do it a lot better. It seems they are in denial.

            • Roar Guru

              June 7th 2018 @ 12:02pm
              Harry Jones said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

              Many thanks, PeterK!

              High praise…

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 12:34pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

                You are too leftfield (in the most complimentary way) to be on the left side Big Man.

          • June 7th 2018 @ 3:58pm
            cuw said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

            GENIA was good at it like in 2011 / 12 . then he lost confidence , maybe he got injured and few of his kicks got charged down

            i think at the same time he was made captain – the time many aussy captains was getting injured , like HOrwill , Pocock , maybe Mowen ….

      • June 7th 2018 @ 6:46am
        SP said | June 7th 2018 @ 6:46am | ! Report

        Yep Ken. The Irish bloke is a one trick pony, a lot like the team itself. One dimensional. Good at box kicks. Not so good at everything else.

        • June 7th 2018 @ 7:16am
          Ben said | June 7th 2018 @ 7:16am | ! Report

          Yet Ireland are ranked 2nd…ahead of Aus. The Lions tour to nz last year had a lot of people pushing that Murray was the best halfback in the world. I certainly thought he outplayed Aaron Smith. But then again ive actually watched Murray play…..

          • Roar Guru

            June 7th 2018 @ 7:27am
            Harry Jones said | June 7th 2018 @ 7:27am | ! Report

            Clearly, Conor is in the top three of scrumhalves in the world, in the last five years.

        • June 7th 2018 @ 7:23am
          moa said | June 7th 2018 @ 7:23am | ! Report

          @SP Guess that’s why they are languishing at #2 then eh?

    • Roar Guru

      June 7th 2018 @ 4:38am
      taylorman said | June 7th 2018 @ 4:38am | ! Report

      Both are good 9’s, but Genia can go missing at times. Murray has been key to Irelands growth over the years but head to head on oz grounds I expect them to come out even, or Murray slightly ahead, but I do expect Genia to split the defence the odd occasion as he does. Genia can operate well behind his losing pack and oz will need that. He’ll have a hard time containing Connor near the line.

      Off topic all three Barrett brothers start this weekend, Crotty and AL Brown midfield. Jordie to FB, Smith to wing…hmmm.

      • Roar Guru

        June 7th 2018 @ 4:42am
        Harry Jones said | June 7th 2018 @ 4:42am | ! Report

        Jordie, Ben, ALB, Crotty, Rieko, BBBBB, Nugget, Moody, Codie, Franks, Sam W, Scott B, Liam, Cane, Luke W. Harris, Karl T, Ofa T, Fifita, Ardie, TJP, Macca, Laumape.

        • June 7th 2018 @ 7:27am
          Ben said | June 7th 2018 @ 7:27am | ! Report

          3 Barretts
          2 Whitelocks
          2 Smiths.
          Lucky Akira isnt playing and Ben Franks has departed and Julian Savea overlooked.
          The ABs must have the most sets of brothers playing for them than any team!!
          Meads, Clarkes, Whettons, Goings, Taylors, just to name a few.

        • June 7th 2018 @ 3:17pm
          cuw said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:17pm | ! Report


          15 Maxime Médard, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud (c), 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Remy Grosso, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Morgan Parra,

          8 Fabien Sanconnie, 7 Kevin Gourdon, 6 Judicaël Cancoriet, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Paul Gabrillagues, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Dany Priso

          16 Adrien Pélissié, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Bernard Le Roux, 20 Alexandre Lapandry, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Jules Plisson, 23 Gael Fickou

          New Zealand:

          15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith,

          8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Samuel Whitelock (c), 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

          16 Nathan Harris, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Ngani Laumape

          Date: Saturday, June 9
          Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
          Kick-off: 19:35 local (08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT)

          Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
          Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), John Lacey (Ireland)
          Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)

          • Roar Guru

            June 7th 2018 @ 4:02pm
            Ralph said | June 7th 2018 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

            That is a lot of French names I don’t know.

      • Roar Guru

        June 7th 2018 @ 5:07am
        Harry Jones said | June 7th 2018 @ 5:07am | ! Report

        Taylorman, the Genia v Conor matchup is definitely getting me READY for this series. Could go either way; classic contrast of styles.

        • Roar Guru

          June 7th 2018 @ 5:44am
          taylorman said | June 7th 2018 @ 5:44am | ! Report

          Yes it will be though with the stronger Irish pack Genias got his work cut out containing Murray.

        • June 7th 2018 @ 11:57am
          Perthstayer said | June 7th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

          Fascinating article Harry.

          Folau can catch the kicks but his backside will hit the dirt a split second after his studs do. I wonder if Cheika has the smarts to produce a defensive plan or whether he goes with “as long as we score more points than they do then she’ll be right”.

          • Roar Guru

            June 7th 2018 @ 12:30pm
            PeterK said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

            disagree, that is where Folau has an advantage over most catchers, he times his jump so he is running forwards so that he hits the ground running rather than static, I see him holding back so he can do this.

            I rarely see him tackled as soon as he hits the ground.

            • Roar Rookie

              June 7th 2018 @ 2:25pm
              piru said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

              He does, but how often has a kicker been accurate enough to pin him in position while the defenders come up on him?

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 3:16pm
                PeterK said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

                he will be standing deeper and run in on a box kick, the 5 secs in the air is an advantage for him as well

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 7:41pm
                Harry Jones said | June 7th 2018 @ 7:41pm | ! Report

                Fascinating chess match!

              • June 8th 2018 @ 9:10am
                Angus Kennedy said | June 8th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

                you seem to post a lot of negative stuff about Folau. His limitations, failings, how he will be shut down, what is wrong with his defence, etc. How come? It seems unduly negative for a player that is so successful and so dominant.

    • June 7th 2018 @ 5:15am
      Faith said | June 7th 2018 @ 5:15am | ! Report

      The ABs were always going to see how Jordie and B Smith were going to work off each other but the latter went off for sabbatical last year and Jordie got injured. That’s the only reason that DMac got an extended run at FB last year. The World Cup is coming and the ABs truth be told are long in the tooth and predictable. They need to test new points of difference. Everyone else is catching up. Thus, to test new attack moves they are going to go with three of their most rugby-intelligent players (rather than naturally talented). Crotty, Bender and Jordie. Remember the shock selection of Rieko during the first Test – now watch how this new combination goes. The build-up to WC starts. And I am sure they’ll take a look at as many combinations as there are possible. Naholo will get his chance. So, will Dagg and Scudder.

      • Roar Guru

        June 7th 2018 @ 6:41am
        taylorman said | June 7th 2018 @ 6:41am | ! Report

        Naholos the loser here. Incumbant, in form and actually playing wing. Barrett has 5am burgers and a police callout less than a week out and is in with a grin. And didnt play well last time out. Hansen clearly ignored last weekend.

        Not saying he shouldnt be there, but he is lucky. Maybe thats just cos the greats are.🙄

        • June 7th 2018 @ 7:37am
          Ben said | June 7th 2018 @ 7:37am | ! Report

          Well agreed Jordy hasnt played well last 2 games but both were at centre where im not that convinced with him. At fullback though he has been superb. And his 5am burgers…what exactly did he do wrong? Even Hansen could see through the mountain made of that and called it.
          Ben Smith is 31 also so when do you start blooding in new guys?
          He played the Lions last year but for me this is ideal to give him more experience and i like the fact we have that long range goal kicker from beyond halfway. Something we havent had in years.
          Dont get me wrong as i like Naholo but did you watch his form in the loss to the Tahs or even against Queensland? He was good v the Canes but to say his blanket form is “in form” isnt correct.

          • June 7th 2018 @ 8:53am
            Jacko said | June 7th 2018 @ 8:53am | ! Report

            i disagree that naholo isnt in form….he’s been very very good this seson so far and must be wondering why his mum didnt call him Barret…..I dont think Jordie is in great form and i wonder what hansen sees as his advantage over leaving Smith there at FB and selecting a specialist winger……Certainly at 6’5″ he has some height for those kicks coming his direction…Im also a little disappointed in the centre’s selections but at the end of the day in Hansen we trust

            • June 7th 2018 @ 9:08am
              Ben said | June 7th 2018 @ 9:08am | ! Report

              Yup Jordy hasn’t been in form at centre…his last 2 games. But his form at fullback has been superb. It’s obvious Jordy won’t be playing centre as Laumape is on the bench meaning Crotty would push out 1. And don’t you think having that extra goal kicker on the field esp one who can drop them over from over 50 is a big advantage that we often used to grumble about on top of having a lack of goal kicking options?
              This series is perfect to pair him with Ben Smith and get more experience for the WC.
              Did you think Naholo played well against the Tahs?
              Also I rate ALB ahead of Goodhue atm.. he just seems to create more.

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 12:38pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

                Has Jordie really been in superb form the last couple of months? Not saying he has been poor by any means, but superb?

              • June 7th 2018 @ 2:12pm
                Ben said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

                Yeah i believe at fullback hes been superb. Tony Johnson on his rugby show did a little piece highlighting how good he was after the Chiefs game, both on attack and on defence esp a 1 on 1 last line tackle on a rampant Ngatai about 30m out with the line beckoning. But to reinforce…at fullback not centre where hes been the last 2 games and where i think hes not been so good. Thus why i believe you wont see Hansen playing him there as can be seen by the subs bench.

            • June 7th 2018 @ 10:00am
              Highlander said | June 7th 2018 @ 10:00am | ! Report

              Key improvement from Waisake this year is that he is almost error free.

              Good under the high ball, never panics in possession, happy to take contact and present where he would have tried to offload in the past, front on tackling is improved (although he can be made to bite too early still) and his work at the breakdown is excellent.

              And remains an awesome finisher – showing real pace in the open this year.

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 11:51am
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 7th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

                Before I was not entirely convinced about Naholo, but this season he has been the full package. Extremely unlucky to miss out on selection this weekend.

              • June 7th 2018 @ 12:06pm
                Muzzo said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

                Hi Highlander,
                Yep I’m pretty happy to see Luke Whitelock getting the nod, as he, IMO,has been in terrific form this season. His work rate over & around the ball has been outstanding, to say the least. Bit sad on Bender not playing at fullback but I do see Shags reasoning there, in getting Jordie up & running for next year. Waisake, was really unlucky. as he is without a doubt, the best finisher, of Fijian heritage, in the game.
                Overall a good solid team,mate.

              • June 7th 2018 @ 12:17pm
                Fionn said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

                Naholo is an absolute freak. New Zealand’s backs are scary good.

                I was half expecting to see McKenzie at fullback and Mounga on the bench though.

              • June 7th 2018 @ 12:35pm
                Highlander said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

                Really pleased for Luke Whitelock, Muzzo- has worked really hard over the past few seasons and esp so this year.

                Did well on EOYT when called on, limited top range in his attacking skill set perhaps but every side needs some handle turners and he has been great doing the dirty work all year.

                Plus, it is the French we are playing and no matter who they send out they will compete up front.

        • June 7th 2018 @ 3:23pm
          cuw said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

          @ taylorman

          i think they are prepping JB to counter Folau.

          he is like 6′ 5″ and 100kg – all he needs to do is to develop a running jump. 😀

        • Columnist

          June 7th 2018 @ 4:03pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | June 7th 2018 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

          It will be a good contest in the back-line – France have picked one of their better group of backs for the last few years…

          Wait until you see Teddy Thomas – he may get skinned by Rieko once or twice but he’ll do plenty of his own too!

      • Roar Guru

        June 7th 2018 @ 2:22pm
        Ralph said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

        I will be super surprised if Dagg makes it back. He’s had one come back already and that was before they started injecting stem cells into his knee so that he’s not running bone-on-bone.

    • Roar Guru

      June 7th 2018 @ 5:23am
      Kia Kaha said | June 7th 2018 @ 5:23am | ! Report

      Excellent, Harry.

      I particularly liked the part about how other halfbacks too often premeditate their box kicks and invariably choose a poor moment to do so.

      A box kick is like a drop kick. You have to work your pack into the right area to give yourself the best chance of pulling it off. And you shouldn’t telegraph it even though the opposition knows it’s coming.

      The height factor has to be the vital cog in his weaponry. Add in a skillful flyhalf outside him and they make a compelling duo. But the Irish chase also needs to be considered. A box kick needs a wall of chasers to keep the ball in the next box.

      • Roar Guru

        June 7th 2018 @ 5:27am
        Harry Jones said | June 7th 2018 @ 5:27am | ! Report

        Your last sentence is ‘money,’ KK!

        I saw how the Irish wolfhounds cordon the receiver.

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